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Towards a new economic order

Written By: - Date published: 8:40 am, April 17th, 2016 - 222 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Economy, Environment, journalism, poverty, Privatisation, sustainability, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

A recent article by George Monbiot published in the Guardian titled “Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems” neatly describes the battle between neoliberal and Kensyan economics and how neoliberalism won the battle but is failing because of its inherent problems.  He also asks that most important of questions, why has the left failed to come up with a modern alternative?

He accurately described its features.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

Despite all of its moral failings greed certainly is good under this model.  And it has affected individual perceptions of morality and worth.

We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

Never mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have a job it’s because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it’s your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers.

He describes its formation and how it took over from Keynesian economics when the flaws in that theory became evident.

The postwar consensus was almost universal: John Maynard Keynes’s economic prescriptions were widely applied, full employment and the relief of poverty were common goals in the US and much of western Europe, top rates of tax were high and governments sought social outcomes without embarrassment, developing new public services and safety nets.

But in the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream. As Friedman remarked, “when the time came that you had to change … there was an alternative ready there to be picked up”. With the help of sympathetic journalists and political advisers, elements of neoliberalism, especially its prescriptions for monetary policy, were adopted by Jimmy Carter’s administration in the US and Jim Callaghan’s government in Britain.

Its adoption occurred throughout the western world with New Zealand an unfortunate standout.  Rogernomics has a lot to answer for.

After Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took power, the rest of the package soon followed: massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services. Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world. Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. As Stedman Jones notes, “it is hard to think of another utopia to have been as fully realised.”

It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice and freedom should have been promoted with the slogan “there is no alternative”. But, as Hayek remarked on a visit to Pinochet’s Chile – one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied – “my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism”. The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.

And the repercussions can be seen in modern day New Zealand as well as throughout the world.

Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

The primary flaw in the theory is that those with control of capital and wealth are having their wealth enhanced.  It perpetuates power and control of the already wealthy to the detriment of everyone else.

Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one. Economic growth has been markedly slower in the neoliberal era (since 1980 in Britain and the US) than it was in the preceding decades; but not for the very rich. Inequality in the distribution of both income and wealth, after 60 years of decline, rose rapidly in this era, due to the smashing of trade unions, tax reductions, rising rents, privatisation and deregulation.

The privatisation or marketisation of public services such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to government, for their use. Rent is another term for unearned income. When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel.

And despite its clear failings it staggers on, making things worse for us all as it does so.  But the levers of power are difficult to identify and even more difficult to control.

Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed. But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities.

The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. Slowly, very slowly, we have begun to discover the names of a few of them. We find that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has been secretly funded by British American Tobacco since 1963. We discover that Charles and David Koch, two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute that set up the Tea Party movement. We find that Charles Koch, in establishing one of his thinktanks, noted that “in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organisation is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised”.

Monbiot is critical of the left and its failure to adopt an alternative and makes a tentative proposal that includes respect for environmental protection.

Neoliberalism’s triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was … nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years.

Every invocation of Lord Keynes is an admission of failure. To propose Keynesian solutions to the crises of the 21st century is to ignore three obvious problems. It is hard to mobilise people around old ideas; the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.

Labour and the Greens are working towards alternatives.  The Greens have done a great deal of work on what sustainable growth looks like.  Hint, it does not include rampant consumption.  And Labour is addressing some fundamental issues in its Future of Work study.

These criticisms and this alternative thinking are nothing new.  But the trouble with Neoliberalism is that the forces that it has at its disposal are huge and it will not go quietly.  The propaganda effect alone of decades of there is no alternative will be very difficult to overcome.
But if it continues then we will face a world whose environment is increasingly ruined and be ruled by an elite who completely lacks a sense of how much is enough.

222 comments on “Towards a new economic order ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    A very good post Mickey. When Monbiot is on song, few can touch him for his plain reading, yet well constructed arguments. This particular one is absolutely worth revisiting in detail.

    But the trouble with Neoliberalism is that the forces that it has at its disposal are huge and it will not go quietly. The propaganda effect alone of decades of there is no alternative will be very difficult to overcome.

    Not just the propaganda effect, but the defense of entrenched privilege one as well. We have to make it clear that whenever one of the usual suspects stands up on his hind legs and spouts the usual TINA and “barking mad” lines …. that we are merely watching an amoral, unjustified and tawdry justification for his or her own self interests.

  2. Nice work Micky. Neo-liberalism isn’t going quietly but while the proponents of neo-liberalist doctrine sit around counting their money, stroking their egos and trying to convince everyone that there’s “nothing to see here” they’re leaving the door wide open for real change at the grassroots level. Keeping people cognisant of the fact that they aren’t powerless and that change at the local level is worthwhile – and does trickle up is key. There are lots of people who want to feel that their lives are meaningful.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      Yes and denied that meaning for long enough and there will be a reaction. But this time it won’t be localised.

      What the left needs to grasp is that the neoliberal forces are global, and that the response to them will have to match. This was never a matter of local or even national scale politics. I believe the left failed the challenge of the past 30 years largely because we ignored this dimension.

      Intimidated by the failed record of the fascists the left pulled back from it internationalist ambitions and left this global ground uncontested for the financiers and corporates to infest it. Now I think we need to reach out across borders, across cultures and re-start some long neglected conversations with our brothers and sisters around the planet.

      • Olwyn 2.1.1

        Big ideas in a connected world may be global, but they play out locally. The globalism associated with neoliberalism seems to derive its origins from the belief that US-style capitalism was the winner of WW2, and a pernicious strain of that kind of capitalism grabbing the ball and running with it. The ideal citizen of the resultant culture has been the social climber, the social climber being the simplest manifestation of cost-benefit man. The new elite have largely arisen from those circles, including Thatcher herself. A counter to this is more likely to begin, in my opinion, from solidarity and the exchange of strategies and ideas between growing grassroots movements than by a new top-down paradigm. We need to produce whatever system takes the top down role, and not just will it.

        • Descendant Of Sssmith

          There’s always been capitalist winners from war. The more war, the more they win.


          “And let us not forget the bankers who financed the great war. If anyone had the cream of the profits it was the bankers. Being partnerships rather than incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public — even before a Senate investigatory body. “

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 2.1.2

        I agree it is a global issue. However the answers will start locally – a successful example of turning away from neoliberalism would be hugely useful. For example, if a Corbyn or Sanders could win and demonstrate that TINA is a lie, it will be much easier for the rest of the world to then follow. Even NZ could be the country that sets this example, although we seem a long way away from it at the moment.

        We have been very fortunate to have the examples from some of the continental European countries, who have maintained their social cooperation and defied neoliberalism to some degree.

  3. johnm 3

    The freedom neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.

    Thanks for this, Mr. Monbiot. It’s about as timely as it gets, in this time of awakening when many people are starting to ask the questions that this article answers. (I can’t wait to read the new book.)

    Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. As Daniel Stedman Jones notes, “it is hard to think of another utopia to have been as fully realised.”

    Neoliberalism is just the polite word for fascism, the apparatus of the state working hand in hand with the corporations to empower and enrichen the few, including using the law enforcement powers of the state to suppress opposition and dissent.

    Neoliberalism or really toryism by a different name isn’t really an ideology
    but rather a dangerous human pathology often fatal which posits that
    that which the “select few” have robbed the rest of is'”rightfully’ the
    property of the select few thus begetting despotism and ultimately
    the worst form of despotism ever fascism.

    • CatalanHomage 3.1

      Johnm – if, as so many of those who comment here believe, NZ is a Neoliberal state and that NZ Labour are also beholden to Neolibralism I take it you therefore believe that NZ Labour are fascists? I’m not sure they’d agree.

      • Anne 3.1.1

        Some who comment here have hoodwinked themselves into believing Labour is beholden to Neoliberalism. I believe they are wrong. Having been active in Labour on and off for 40 years I am certain almost all the membership and the bulk of the caucus are NOT Neoliberalists and never have been.

        Yes, some influential people inside Labour flirted with the new concept introduced by Roger Douglas and others, but for god’s sake that was 30 plus years ago! Most have long disappeared into the wide blue yonder, and those who remain (eg Phil Goff) long ago discarded the meme having witnessed the negative consequences over and over again.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Having been active in Labour on and off for 40 years I am certain almost all the membership and the bulk of the caucus are NOT Neoliberalists and never have been.

          And yet they keep to the same failed neo-liberal policies such as raising the age of retirement and low taxes on the rich.

          • Craig H

            It takes time to change policy – the superannuation age policy is very unlikely to survive to the next election, however.

            The current taxation policy is to review the whole system – pretty simple, but necessary in my view. Better than tinkering with the edges, although there might be some proposals around that in the interim.

            • Colonial Viper

              Reviews and consultation are just excuses to fuck around and do nothing while the likes of Ernst and Young, Deloitte and PWC make the recommendations that they want.

              As for the Super age policy; you cannot trust the Labour caucus on this. They really believe that NZ cannot afford the electronic flim flam money generated by keyboard strokes to maintain NZ Super in its current form.

              So if they leave the age of eligibility the same, you can guarantee that they will try and cut NZ Super some other way.

              This uncertainty alone is enough to gift National a 4th term.

              • Craig H

                There are plenty of excellent ideas floating around Labour, but there’s a real fear of being shredded by the media on the subject.

                The original remit was actually to introduce various asset and capital taxes, but the regional conference was gun-shy, so it was reworded into a system review instead.

                A remit was put through to revert the super policy back to a universal age of 65 – it’s clear that the voters don’t want the old policy, so it should be scrapped.

                • RedLogix

                  but there’s a real fear of being shredded by the media on the subject.

                  And this is a major problem in NZ. Our media is too small, incestuous and dependent on too few employers/gatekeepers.

                  You can cope with being ‘shredded’, as long as your supporting argument gets a fair play. But we never see that; what we get are sly, devious mind-games that give the illusion of ‘balance’ but are carefully designed to screw the scrum.

            • Draco T Bastard

              The current taxation policy is to review the whole system – pretty simple, but necessary in my view.

              Forget the review – design from the ground up. Put in place a whole new system that also annuls all previous precedents.

              Do that and we could have a tax system fit for purpose.

              Labour already did the review and simplification bit and the result is that we still have tax cheats because the present tax system is broken and can’t be fixed.

          • billmurray

            Draco T Bastard: you have hit the nail, Labour and indeed NZ have a massive problem with people who believe they rich and neo-liberals when in fact they are simply people who happen to be in a good spot but time, age and technology will destroy them.
            Labour seem to know this but they do not have any MPs who can articulate and present coherent message.
            Little is in a dreadful situation ,but he has no one to blame but himself. The Labour party at large do not understand MMP, sure they can count numbers but the psychology of MMP is beyond there ‘ken’.

            • Craig H

              The Labour Party members who attend LECs etc all have a solid understanding of MMP, so I’m not sure where the idea that the psychology of MMP is beyond us comes from. There’s a strong preference for the Greens as a coalition partner over anyone else, but there’s also the knowledge that you have to deal with the hand in front of you at the table.

        • Descendant Of Sssmith

          Yet bringing back the right to strike, state housing for life, 8 hour working day 40 hour working week, government jobs for young people and those will illness and disability who will not get jobs in the private sector, ensuring wealth is shared around the country through regional development, state owned infrastructural assets such as telecommunications and electricity, accountability for government agencies instead of non-accountable SOE structures, taxation at a suitable rate to ensure the country is looked after, non-moralistic benefit entitlements, decent benefit rates, and so on and so on.

          All legitimate social policies that Labour (and the country) used to be proud of.

          All now relegated to the dusty past of the Labour Party. You may not think for some reason that they are neo-liberal (can’t figure out why) but socialist they are not.

        • UncookedSelachimorpha

          I’m afraid Labour has not yet turned its back on the ideology it was instrumental in introducing into NZ – even if it was 30 years ago. In fact that is the problem – after 30 years Labour still has not convincingly changed its tune – Douglas, Prebble and co were probably the most influential Labour members of the last 50 years in terms of their longterm imprint on NZ society. Labour still seems to believe that GDP and growth is key to all things good and that pandering to the wealthy is an unavoidable requirement of politics. However to be fair – neoliberal nonsense has such a grip on the public psyche that going against it now is not a short-term winning strategy in the polling booth.

          Coming from someone who definitely still thinks Labour is a much better choice than the Nats!

        • Leftie

          +1000 Anne @ 3.1.1, completely agree.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      Neoliberalism is just the polite word for fascism, the apparatus of the state working hand in hand with the corporations to empower and enrichen the few, including using the law enforcement powers of the state to suppress opposition and dissent.


  4. MindPilot 4

    What were the structural failures in the 70s that still remain?

  5. joe90 5

    Meh, just another name for the cancer that’s libertarianism.

    From the article –

    The term neoliberalism was coined at a meeting in Paris in 1938. Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the gradual development of Britain’s welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism.

    In The Road to Serfdom, published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian control. Like Mises’s book Bureaucracy, The Road to Serfdom was widely read. It came to the attention of some very wealthy people, who saw in the philosophy an opportunity to free themselves from regulation and tax. When, in 1947, Hayek founded the first organisation that would spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society – it was supported financially by millionaires and their foundations.

  6. BM 6

    What it boils down to is this.

    The vast majority of people are living happy lives under the current economic system, they don’t want change.

    Improve and tweak, sure, radical change, new system not a chance.

    • Olwyn 6.1

      That claim will be tested, won’t it, when a viable new system emerges? I have read that when the first Labour government was voted in in Britain, some prominent Tory sniffed “The people won’t stand for it”, overlooking the fact that the people had voted for it. Then, democratic socialism was an idea whose time had come. It is ridiculous to think that there are no further ideas waiting for their moment when high levels of anger and alienation exist, even if those levels do not now encompass a majority.

      • BM 6.1.1

        Why would the average modern day voter vote for a new system?

        What’s going to drive them to leap into the unknown and embrace this new life changing way of doing every thing?

        • Olwyn

          Well, people had similar thoughts about the current system when Hayek and Friedman were still barking away against the tide.

        • Puddleglum

          Oh, I don’t know. Maybe high rates of anxiety, depression, stress, self-harm amongst young people, substance abuse? Pain in general?

          And the general awareness that these things are not just coincidentally happening in tandem with neoliberal reforms.

        • Drowsy M. Kram

          Increasing inequality of wealth and opportunity, a global financial crisis cycle with a period of <10 years, catastrophic climate change? But cheer up, it might never happen.

        • Ad

          We’ve had more crises more often since 1974 than during the early Cold War, but no new theoretical base to build the state afresh.

          Neoliberalism easily survived the GFC, which could have been as devastating as the Great Depression. The current order is surviving greater and greater shocks. It’s learning. Evolving. Like it should.

          I don’t see any horizon for radical change at all.

          • pat

            “neoliberalism easily (barely) survived the GFC “(that still continues) , but I’m not so sure that coherent society has survived when you look around the world…looks more like a slow collapse to me

          • BM

            At least you’re not living in fantasy land Ad.

            You don’t try and invent a completely new product, you take what’s existing and improve it,

            That’s the best and easiest path to success.

            • RedLogix

              Yes that’s reasonable BM. Certainly I’m happy to take the good idea of markets and improve on them by getting rid of their obscene, greedy parasites sucking the life out of us ordinary people and the planet we depend on.

              • BM

                Who in NZ is on your list for getting the chop?

                • RedLogix

                  As you may have noticed my perspective tends to run wider than just NZ.

                  Globally there are fewer than 100 people who are controlling more combined wealth than the poorest 3.5b humans. That’s not an unmanageable number of rich pricks. While I’d prefer to tackle them under the rule of law, given they’ve bought and paid for that, maybe other extra-legal options will land on the table.

                  Or the shareholders of some very large fossil fuel companies who coldly calculated that their short-term wealth was to take priority; when they already KNEW forty years ago the damage their product was going to cause.

                  It’s not hard BM; personal economic and environmental crimes demand personal accountability. And while most of us are complicit in these things to some degree, fortunately you only have to make an example of a few egregious individuals and most others quickly undergo transformational learning moments. Especially if you go about it in a controlled fashion.

                  But failing this,unleashing disruption on an unconstrained scale always has unforeseen consequences. The French Revolution went way too far; and there is nothing to stop it’s contemporary equivalent going overboard either. Chances are I’d be on the wrong side of that calculus; as would most privileged white people. Mobs are not known for fine discrimination or subtle sensibilities, you might only have to look like a rentier capitalist to become one on the night.

                  The path we are on is unsustainable; our world has every hallmark of a society heading for collapse. Something new will arise from the rubble, but the only meaningful question you and I will get to answer is, “How bumpy do you want the ride down?”

                  • Macro

                    he French Revolution went way too far; and there is nothing to stop it’s contemporary equivalent going overboard either.

                    Yes I often wonder how I would fare under the calculus of that sort of regime as well. But all the signs are there. I never studied History as a subject at school – it was a choice of history or maths! But a few years ago I ended up with the task of teaching a main lesson on the French Revolution (about which I knew practically nothing). If you want to really educate a class – get a teacher who knows nothing about the subject to take the lesson. I learned so much from that and I know my class did as well because that class is now around 28 years old and I know all of them still.
                    We have an elite that now care little about the rest of society – so long as their super yacht is waiting for them in the Caribbean or wherever for when they jet in, and they can rub shoulders with the Shar of Timbucktoo or a round of golf with the President of the United States or whoever they are don’t care.
                    In 1789 It wasn’t the poor who led the uprising – but the middle classes who suddenly realised that they were being sucked dry by a voracious aristocracy. Similar to the greed of King John in England that led to his confrontation with the Barons and the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.
                    In Western countries professionals are now coming to the realisation that all their hard work will not provide them with the expectations that they had hoped for.
                    It wont be long before the unrest will become more than just muttering and “inter-generational theft”.

                    • RedLogix

                      It’s certainly reaching that stage in the USA. No question their middle class is hurting. The trajectory from here is uncertain, but we can be sure that regardless of the outcome of this election, the issues Sanders and Trump (in their very different fashions) have thrust into the limelight are not going away.

                      Cruz (Mr Saudi Arabia of Coal) will utterly destroy any liberal legacy or legitimacy the USA still possesses. The best that can be said is that Cruz or Trump Presidencies will only heighten their internal cultural tensions, and precipitate a reaction.

                      Clinton will pretend and extend, intensify the people’s sense of betrayal and despair and ultimately intensify the backlash. Her Presidency strikes me as the worst outcome.

                      Neither is it obvious that Sanders alone represents the safe path through. He isn’t too little, but he may well be too late. The neo-liberal forces arrayed against him would be formidable, and the Trump rump would remain a vocal, energised, disgruntled minority. The USA is not far short of ungovernable as it is.

                      The Reagan presidency aligned with the interests of the rich and powerful to radically change the direction of their entire nation. Could a Sanders presidency, so deeply at odds with establishment interests, reverse the course once again? Can the middle classes assert their interests by sheer power of numbers?

                    • Macro

                      Yes I have very similar thoughts wrt all you comment above. But even if Bernie comes through, there is still the problem of the legislature. This has been the thorn for Obama. despite all his rhetoric – he has been hamstrung by a Senate and Congress dominated by the right and the establishment eg Obama Care. Reform is nigh impossible whatever the wishes of the Head of State.
                      The US is no longer a democracy but a corporatocracy – a state run by corporations for corporations. I think we here are in much the same state.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      It’s certainly reaching that stage in the USA.

                      Clinton will pretend and extend, intensify the people’s sense of betrayal and despair and ultimately intensify the backlash. Her Presidency strikes me as the worst outcome.

                      I see a high probability of civil war breaking out in the US in the next few years.

          • Mike S

            The horizon for radical change is definitely coming, that is a mathematical certainty if we continue under the current system. The question is when is it going to happen?

            Economic growth (as we know it under the current system) is unsustainable. Once this exponential growth reaches it’s limit then we have either run out of resources or the monetary system will collapse entirely. Once that happens, radical change is unavoidable.

            Every year we have increasing GDP growth is another step towards total economic meltdown.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      he vast majority of people are living happy lives under the current economic system,

      No, they actually aren’t.

      • Reddelusion 6.2.1

        Yes they actually are

        • Draco T Bastard

          No, they actually aren’t. I should know – I’ve been there, done that. From unemployed to top 10% and down again. They accept things the way they are but they’re not happy about it and quite a few are really frustrated because the system actively gets in the way. Unfortunately, many of them don’t realise that it’s the government working for the rich that’s the problem.

          And, yes, that really is about the Left painting a better vision of a better future so that these people engage to change the system but all they’re getting is more of the bloody same.

          • Reddelusion

            your personal experience and limited observation is not evidence that by far the majority of people are unhappy Polls both political and otherwise argue the contrary. These are more scientific than your personal experience and testimony or limited observation and then summation on your part filtered through your extreme ideology

            • maui

              Hmm, not sure if I’ve ever seen a poll asking “are you happy with the current economic system?”. So bringing party politial polls into this may be spurious. You could just say 1 million people who vote National out of a nation of 4+ million possibly want the status quo.. convincing?

            • Draco T Bastard

              your personal experience and limited observation is not evidence that by far the majority of people are unhappy

              The research (only a teaser) I’ve read is backed up by personal experience. Money does not buy happiness. Happiness measured at around 5 is not indicative of a vast majority being happy.

              …your personal experience and testimony or limited observation and then summation on your part filtered through your extreme ideology

              My ideology is built up from my personal experience and readings of the science. Not the other way around which would seem to be what you RWNJs do.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 6.3

      50% of the NZ population owns 5% of the wealth, I’m not sure they are that happy (or the 25% of the population above them either). True, a lot of that demographic aren’t voting at the moment, but if they see something that could actually change their lives…?

      • BM 6.3.1

        Most people are fairly simple creatures with fairly simple needs, if theses needs are met they’re happy or happy enough.

        The current system is providing what most people require, there is no ground swell for change.

        • One Two

          The current system is providing what most people require, there is no ground swell for change


        • UncookedSelachimorpha

          Simple needs, for example eating cake.

        • Stuart Munro

          “Most people are fairly simple creatures”

          What is true of you doesn’t necessarily form a sound basis for generalisation.

        • Henry Filth

          There is an immense groundswell for change. How the world’s opposition party have failed to regain power over the past electoral cycle has been instructive albeit depressing.

          It will not effect change if the opposition simply stand up on their hind legs and bleat in unison “We’re not National so it’s your duty to vote for us”

          • BM

            There is an immense groundswell for change

            To what?, I honestly don’t see it.

            • gnomic

              What have you got to do with honesty? Idiocy more like. Do you get paid for this drivel?

              Bit like the smirking weasel. “I don’t deal with people unless they’re highly ethical …” Yeah right.

            • Henry Filth

              I honestly do.

              Maybe we talk to different people. . .

    • greywarshark 6.4

      You lie through your teeth, which are false.
      The vast majority of people are living happy lives
      If you were ever taken seriously on this blog, this statement by you indicates what fools they are arguing with you – someone who has no time for turning his cogs to cogitation.

  7. TopHat 7

    “The vast majority.” = ~75%-90% depending on context and only used to stave off breaking up text.
    @BM even 50% is not a vast majority.
    The longer Jonny boy is in power and employ shills such as yourself, the more chance of a new system starting to gather an appealing look.

  8. The lost sheep 8

    that it’s not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century.

    I’ve been blithering on that theme for a year or so here and all it got me was abuse.
    So great to see that Monbiot has given the theme some credibility!

    But again, Monbiot does himself illustrate the central barrier to The Left designing the new system.
    99% of his article is spent attacking the current system, but in his own words “It’s not enough to oppose….A coherent alternative has to be proposed.”
    Yes, so……..?

    World wide, I see a Left so obsessed with ‘the enemy’ that they put only an insignificant amount of their energy into developing a viable new system and finding the way to present that to the people in a coherent and compelling form.
    Imagine if all that time and effort spent on attacking the current system was put into a constructive conversation about change?
    What might happen!

    But I am absolutely certain that change will not occur until it does happen.

    So I would love to think Monbiots words might sink in, and The Left might focus up on developing a credible alternative…….but i have a sinking feeling that if this blog is an indicator, tomorrow it will still indicate that about 90% of the Left’s energy is being absorbed by the opposition.

    • pat 8.1

      That a new system needed to be developed has been obvious for some time , however if you follow Monbiot you will know that the change to the economic order is but part of what is required in his vision….and I doubt the required changes will be politically acceptable (or sellable to the required proportion of society) until such time as the consequences of the old are coming for you and yours, regardless of political persuasion…..the level of organization and self sacrifice both within and between communities (of interest and region) is beyond our species

    • joe90 8.2

      So I would love to think Monbiots words might sink in, and The Left might focus up on developing a credible alternative

      Too busy barking at trees, apparently.

      “What is going to come after neoliberalism?” It was the question on many radicals’ lips, present writer included, after the financial crisis hit in 2008.


      Five years later, little has changed. What comes after neoliberalism? More neoliberalism, apparently. The prospects for a revived Left capable of confronting it appear grim.

      Enter Philip Mirowski’s Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown. Mirowski maintains that the true nature of neoliberalism has gone unrecognized by its would-be critics, allowing the doctrine to flourish even in conditions, such as a massive financial crisis, that would seem to be inimical to its survival. Leftists keep busy tilting at the windmill of deregulation as the giants of neoliberalism go on pillaging unmolested.


      Finally, Mirowski argues that the Left has too often been sucked in by neoliberalism’s loyal opposition. Figures like Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman, while critical of austerity and supportive of the welfare state, accept the fundamental neoclassical economic precepts at the heart of neoliberal policy. Mirowski argues that we must ditch this tradition in its entirety. Even attempts to render its assumptions more realistic — as in the case of behavioral economics, for example, which takes account of the ways real people diverge from the hyperrationality of homo economicus — provide little succor for those seeking to overturn the neoliberals.


  9. Nic the NZer 9

    One of the primary causes of Neo-liberalisms hegemony is a failure to understand and explain the primary economic rationale for it. Even here Monbiot discusses full-employment without explaining that it was more than just a slogan. Full-employment was in fact an active policy where governments intervened in the market to create sufficient employment that everybody who wanted a job could find one. Contrast this with the Labour party discussions over the future of work which overall reinforce the narrative that the government can not ultimately do anything about the number of jobs available, or the kinds of jobs available.

    Ultimately Monbiot also fails to explain (and undermine) the neo-liberal mythology with the statement “Every invocation of Lord Keynes is an admission of failure. To propose Keynesian solutions to the crises of the 21st century is to ignore three obvious problems. It is hard to mobilise people around old ideas; the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis.”. He simply dismisses the alternative and explains that the neo-liberal era was not a discretionary political change (favoring wealth and capital), but a necessary response to problems with the Keynesian economic policies of the previous era. Meanwhile the only coherent response to the economic problems of the day is some variations on the earlier Keynesian policy. Simply the government must take control over outcomes of the economy by shifting production and output onto a sustainable environmental path (largely by direct investment and spending decisions, which will additionally create jobs) rather than leaving the outcomes of these responsibilities to the market.

    Given a better understanding of Neo-liberal and Keynesian economic theories, Monbiot may have drawn the alternative conclusions that
    * Neo-liberal economics were themselves a revision to earlier Classical economic theories (primarily the reformation of Says law).
    * Neo-liberal economic theories had already failed by the 1990’s when overt Monetarism (attempts by Central Banks to control the size of the money supply, and by implication inflation rates) collapsed as a workable economic policy (Central banks have since used interest rate targeting instead).
    * By implication of the above the rationale for rejecting Keynesian ideas (that Keynesian policies required creating too much money and therefore caused too much inflation) was a complete fraud.

    • Interesting comment.

      I’d like someone to explain why Keynesian (or neo-Keynesian) solutions no longer work other than ‘that’s so 20th century’ (as if that’s an argument).

      Not that I’m wedded to them but I haven’t heard why they are any more unworkable than neoliberal prescriptions.

      • pat 9.1.1

        because they too promote growth and consumption….not any more unworkable (certainly more equitable) but unfit in a century where we know the end result whereas arguably in the 20th we didn’t

        • Puddleglum


          In that context, I understand that Keynes’ view of international trade was that it should be limited to ‘luxuries’ which would make most production local or at least domestic.

          • pat

            mitigates but doesn’t solve the problem….

            “We distance ourselves from uncomfortable realities by creating comfortable unrealities. And it doesn’t seem to matter how unreal they may become.”


            • Puddleglum

              The challenge for an environmentally-focused economic ‘solution’ is the question of upon whom the costs of low/no growth fall.

              In terms of ‘uncomfortable realities’ I think one that needs to be honestly faced is that any ‘power down’ will be survived far better by the currently wealthy than by the currently poor. The opposite view is unbridled romanticism – in Monbiot’s terms a ‘comfortable unreality’.

          • RedLogix

            And of course Keynes critical idea of the Bankor currency was never implemented; leaving a gap in his entire scheme. It was always a sly crock of shit to suggest Keynesian economics didn’t work very well, when it was crippled from the outset.

        • Nic the NZer

          No pat, that is a critique of a poor caricature of Keynesian thought. Consumption is the sense Keynes uses that term is everything which is not investment expenditure. So if consumption is not sustainable then simply put the population is not sustainable, this is not a problem with the economic system (and what kinds of things it produces), its a problem where the earth can’t support its population.
          Growth in Keynesian terms is explicitly nominal income growth. It’s the Neo-classical economic theory which is concerned about real economic variables and mandates that growth must require growth in real economic output itself.

          So there is nothing in Keynesian theory which says you can’t grow incomes by employing people directly to reform the economy on a sustainable path (e.g one with lower real resource utilization).

          Though (to be fair) I do think Monbiot probably uses the term to mean the simplistic boosting of demand by government infrastructure investment, which may have the problems described. It also has the problem that it tends to boost economic efficiency quite effectively, so by doing this boost to demand over the shorter term the government is fairly directly undermining private sector jobs growth over the longer term.

          • Stuart Munro

            Exactly. Keynes made Keynesianism work rather well.

            Bill English can’t get neo-liberalism to work at all.

          • pat

            exactly….theres going to be casualties one way or another….best case scenario there is not wholesale worldwide anarchy.

          • pat

            Bollocks…Keynes advocated the use of government policy to INCREASE aggregate demand in periods of reduced activity……GROWTH.

            But it is irrelevant in any case because Monbiot’s quote fits your delusion we can somehow devise a way out of the reality that a consumer society is untenable and without dense energy our current system will collapse rapidly ….irrespective of any economic theory.

            • Nic the NZer

              I suggest you need to explain what is meant by a consumer society, or what a non-consumer society might look like. Then reflect on the fact that all spending in the economy is categorized as either Consumption or Investment, those are the only categories.

              Yes, a simplistic rendering of Keynesian theory is “the use of government policy to INCREASE aggregate demand in periods of reduced activity” but that doesn’t mean that a government can’t additionally shift the composition of output of the economy to a lower real resource profile while doing that. Or that this can’t provide GROWTH in nominal incomes.

              • pat

                fuck nominal income….we are talking about feeding, transporting , housing and caring for approx 8 billion people …with increasing natural disasters, rising sea levels and at the basis of all this is a substance we can’t use.

                • Nic the NZer

                  So your suggesting earth can’t support 8 billion people? Regardless of the economic system and how it distributes resources to those people?

                  • pat

                    without using oil which underpins the world economy (and without the time to develop and implement any potential replacement) any model will have to have a basis in reducing demand and trade(certainly over any distance) for goods and services….that model has not been designed and even if it is the timeframes and challenges it faces being successfully implemented are slim to non-existent.

                    It certainly isn’t any form of capitalism as we know it, Keynesian or Neoliberal

                  • Colonial Viper

                    many of the most critical resources are non-renewable. You can’t distribute what has run out.

                    Without fossil fuels, the carrying capacity of the Earth is approx 1B max. Maybe 500M.

                    If we are really smart about building the right infrastructure or systems now, it might be a bit more than that.

                    2 billion perhaps?

                    • pat

                      I billion was world pop before industrial revolution…add a factor for technological advance and i agree2 billion is probably a good ballpark…..aint going to be pretty

                    • Colonial Viper

                      it doesnt have to be too catastrophic…a 2% p.a. reduction in world population over 60 years would get us to 2B. Yeah ok its optimism…

      • mikesh 9.1.2

        Essentially, Keynesianism sought to maintain demand by promoting full employment. The government was to become an “employer of last resort”. These days, however, jobs seem to be disappearing as a result of automation, off-shoring and resource depletion, so full employment is becoming harder to maintain.

        The problem is not helped by the the fact that full employment seems to give rise to inflation by dint of the wage/price spiral.

        • Nic the NZer

          If the government stops its “employer of last resort” function then technology change or no you will always be short of jobs at some times. Keynes identified this during a completely different technological era following the great depression.

          There are issues raised by full employment around wage price spirals but we should also take into account that the spiral involves both wage and capital share demands (in the 1970s started by OPEC triggers). Our present solution to that is that capital has all its demands conceded which is probably worse.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 9.2


    • Draco T Bastard 9.3

      He simply dismisses the alternative…

      Keynesianism isn’t the alternative as it’s still capitalism and it’s capitalism that’s failing.

      explains that the neo-liberal era was not a discretionary political change (favoring wealth and capital), but a necessary response to problems with the Keynesian economic policies of the previous era.

      He doesn’t say that at all. He points out that neoliberalism jumped into the gap that was left after the failure of Keynesianism.

      Simply the government must take control over outcomes of the economy by shifting production and output onto a sustainable environmental path (largely by direct investment and spending decisions, which will additionally create jobs) rather than leaving the outcomes of these responsibilities to the market.

      Not exactly.

      * Parliament must ensure that everyone has a reasonable living standard
      * Parliament must ensure that our resources are used sustainably (extracting them and selling them offshore is not sustainable)
      * Parliament must ensure that the infrastructure exists and is well maintained so as to support society

      Ensure that everyone has a reasonable living standard by providing a UBI

      Ensure sustainability by limiting and even stopping the export of our resources

      Infrastructure is always a state monopoly and includes health, roads, ports, airports, telecommunications, power generation and reticulation and food production

      By implication of the above the rationale for rejecting Keynesian ideas (that Keynesian policies required creating too much money and therefore caused too much inflation) was a complete fraud.

      Yes it was. Partly because Keynes was reinterpreted to mean that the government had to borrow the money at interest and that the government had to borrow from the private sector instead of simply creating the money, spending it directly into the economy and then taxing it back out.

      That reinterpretation protected the rich. The actual implementation of Keynes ideas would probably have destroyed them despite Keynes working hard to protect capitalism.

      • Nic the NZer 9.3.1

        If your waiting for a 5000 year old social system (which appears to be an intimate part of human society) to collapse then I suggest you don’t hold your breath.

  10. Stuart Munro 10

    The driver for a new movement will be if it empowers workers. The young Aucklanders denied housing by the chronic stupidity of National’s failed housing policies are highly motivated to pursue any option that will put a roof over their heads and, as an added bonus, a few neo-liberals to the sword.

    • Reddelusion 10.1

      Yes dear

      • Stuart Munro 10.1.1

        I realise you find it difficult to form relationships, but engaging in intimacies with strangers in public is in bad taste and better confined to dating sites.

    • tinfoilhat 10.2

      Another day and more silly violent rhetoric from Stuart.

      • Stuart Munro 10.2.1

        Another day and more silly shallow inanity from tinfoilhat.

        Got a link? Got anything to say besides trolling? Address the post if you can you specious waste of human tissue.

        • tinfoilhat

          On rare occasions you have something interesting to say Stuart.

          Unfortunately you have the habit of straying into calling for violence against those you disagree with, very seldom has violence achieved anything but mayhem and devastating collateral damage to lives and society in general.

      • ropata 10.2.2

        Yes, guillotines are much more efficient. Silly Stuart!

        • Stuart Munro

          Efficiency isn’t everything, and I’ve always felt that guillotines are just a bit too Eurocentric myself. But the sword is a metaphor – in the case of the parasitic RWNJ entities that infest local governments the motivated young people may well be satisfied to remove them from power, or confine them to prison, neglecting all the colourful and instructive possibilities that might edify their successors about the severity with which corruption should be excised from the body politic.

  11. Penny Bright 11

    ‘Public is bad – private is good’, in my understanding was the prevailing myth and mantra upon which neo-liberalism was based.

    Where was the EVIDENCE that was relied upon to substantiate this neo-liberal mantra before it was forced upon the public majority, locally, national and internationally?

    Now that we’ve had of thirty years of ‘Rogernomic$’ neoliberalism – isn’t it high time to compare the proven track record against the mantra?

    Isn’t it time to ROLLBACK ‘ROGERNOMIC$’?

    That’s what I’m advocating.

    Penny Bright
    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

    • Tiger Mountain 11.1

      the politics that dare not speak its name…

      yes, socialism; but it requires a fundamental change in class power if it is to happen with some oomph and permanence and future

      a tall order in this country of ‘individuals’ and SMEs and lawn mowing rounds and new rentiers in old state houses

      but for some, the struggle is our lives and always will be

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    Labour and the Greens are working towards alternatives.

    But have either of them looked to the major problem of the private banks creating money?

    Have either of them looked to the governments power to create money as a possibility of providing money for investment and housing at 0% interest?

    They’re both still stuck in the neo-liberal paradigm that money must cost.

    Have either of them looked to banning foreign investment and ownership in NZ?

    Have they considered that the present insurance system is a scam and that the best insurance company around happens to be our society?

    They’ve both looked at UBI but both keep looking at it the wrong way. Wringing their hands that we can’t afford it which is a lie. If we can’t afford a UBI then we can’t afford to have the number of people we have in NZ.

    It’s not that we can’t afford it but that the rich want to be richer and a UBI would go a long way to preventing that.

  13. Gristle 13

    Take always
    1. Neo-liberalism is failing.
    2. No obvious successor philosophy has been identified.
    3. Elements that a replacement ideology needs to include are:
    A. Globalism.
    B. Wealth re-distribution.
    C. GCC.
    D. Population disruption.
    E. Living in a time of automation.

    Anything else?

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      F. Removal of the rich – we simply cannot afford them

      • Tricledrown 13.1.1

        In relation to the wealth in the world the 1% ,most NewZealanders would be in the worlds 1% category.

          • pat

            hmmm, if you can realise NZ1.1 million…..so hardly most, even Auckland property owners may struggle

            • Mike S

              NZD $50,000 pa income would put you in the top 10% of income earners worldwide. (Although most New Zealanders have incomes less than $50k)

              • pat

                check the “wealth” figures….not income, income is not a very good indicator of wealth….especially if basic living costs are higher than the average wage, just ask anyone working in Auckland looking for a place to live.

              • Colonial Viper

                Although our day to day living expenses in this country are mad

  14. Ant 14

    Neoliberalism’s grip on the unthinking public via enslaved MSM can be offset when increasing numbers of people demonstrate fulfilment through frugal lifestyles honouring the limited resources of earth. Globally this is in full swing (though in scattered small groups) through the spread of co-ops, division of labour, shared resources and all manner of eco-friendly food and energy production and energy. Formally the domain of tree-hugging greenies today the movement embraces (that word!) all segments of society. This hopefully will lead to the cultural transformation indicated by Speth. Devising a system to replace neoliberalism will not be persuasive; Demonstrated viability of an alternative lifestyle might.

    I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good Science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy and to deal with those we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that. Gus Speth

    • ropata 14.1

      It’s an intractable problem: political power, wealth, and military might vs a few tree huggers and socialists. I agree that the only solution (short of some kind of unthinkable global catastrophe) is spiritual/moral/cultural transformation of our entire civilization. God help us

    • maui 14.2

      The thing is when things start breaking down, whether that be a hard financial crash or fuel shortages/price escalation (likely scenarios at some point) then people are going to shift to any system that can keep them alive with the resemblance of an economy. Things like growing food locally, sharing resources, bartering goods/services are all natural things that can simply achieve that and people will gravitate to without really any other choice. I think we also have to hope that any system failure isn’t so catastrophic that we can transition to new ways of doing things as smoothly as possible.

      • pat 14.2.1

        we may be fortunate and that scenario may eventuate…and if anywhere in the world had the highest chance of that it would likely be NZ……something that some of the worlds wealthy appear to have worked out.

  15. Raff 15

    Rather than seek a new ‘system’ (or at least alongside that) can we just not deal with the issues in front of our noses, for now? With naming and shaming at the top of this list, banishing the ‘invisibilities’ – doing everything we can to encourage whistleblowers and good journalists. A way forward will emerge that those with a tidy frame of mind and the time to do it can form into a ‘system’.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.1

      Rather than seek a new ‘system’ (or at least alongside that) can we just not deal with the issues in front of our noses, for now?

      We can address some of them but as the system is the cause of all of them then to get a permanent solution requires changing the system.

  16. ropata 16

    NZ needs land taxes, capital gains taxes, re-nationalised housing & infrastructure, much stronger regulation of finance/insurance/real estate, much stronger Ombudsman & SFO, Treasury disbanded or made to repudiate neoliberal BS.

    Corporations should be reconstituted for the public good, and all companies should (eventually) become worker-owned. No further building of motorways/convention centres or other vanity projects should be allowed until the housing crisis is resolved. All government contracts must be fulfilled by NZ based companies, for starters Kiwibank to become the main bank of nz.govt. No more tax breaks to foreign corps, in fact taxes on all profits taken out of NZ to be doubled.

    Open the books on who owns NZ land and who is buying up all the houses. Politicians who have repeatedly misled the people of NZ to be publicly tarred and feathered, and those found to be profiting from their position of power to be liable to 5 years imprisonment.

    See also
    DailyKos: Capitalism is inherently unstable
    Chris Hedges: Karl Marx was right

    • Draco T Bastard 16.1

      Morgan: Tax burden falling on NZ’s working class

      Economist Gareth Morgan believes New Zealand could be missing out on up to 25 percent of total income tax because the rich aren’t paying their fair share.

      “There’s no free lunch here. If the rich aren’t paying their fair share, someone else has to pay more than they otherwise need to,” he says.

      Dr Morgan proposes a tax on equity to level the playing field, meaning people could be taxed for owning a house or even an expensive car. His example is a house worth $500,000, which would attract a tax of $6000 a year.

      It’s a class war and the rich are, for now, winning. Of course, once they’ve ‘won’ they’ll have destroyed our society and civilisation.

      • Henry Filth 16.1.1

        How will you keep warm in winter once you have burned all the rich?

        • Draco T Bastard

          Same way I do every year – I’ll turn on the heater.

          The rich don’t actually do anything to make that possible. Only the poor do as they’re the ones that do the work. The rich bludge off of the poor.

        • BM

          Takes a long time to burn a wealthy person, all that fat and cognac laden flesh.

          Probably 2-3 wealthy people per winter would do the average family in the deep south, quite economical in comparison to other available energy sources.

          • Stuart Munro

            Need to render Gerry Brownlee down for biodiesel really – there’s enough taxpayer funded subcutaneous fat on him to run the Navy to Fiji and back.

            Mind, Bill English has probably already sold rights in him to Petrobras for 5 cents on the dollar.

        • ropata

          It’s not “burning the rich” to tax unproductive and highly regressive behaviours. It is a moral responsibility of government to protect the poor from the depredations of the rich. WTF is government *for* otherwise?

          • Colonial Viper

            historically its been to protect the privilege and wealth of the important classes in society.

            • ropata

              assume you mean prior to the Magna Carta, US Constitution, UN declaration of Human Rights, Treaty of Waitangi etc

              I am sure our beloved rulers would respect these critical documents? 🙄

              • Colonial Viper

                do you mean the Magna Carta which guaranteed the rights and privileges of the aristocracy and the nobility against absolute rule by the king?

                Or do you mean the US Constitution which ensured that women and blacks had no voting rights and that the US Senate was appointed by the ruling classes?

                How about the set up of the UN which ensured that 5 permanent members of the security council could overule any of the poorer weaker nations in the world?

                Or how the Treaty of Waitangi gave legal cover for the Crown to take all the land and resources that they wanted?

                As I said, historically the purpose of government has been to protect the privilege and wealth of the important classes in society.

          • Tricledrown

            When those who need democracy to work Don’t vote then we end up with what we have got neo liberalism.

  17. Steve Alfreds 17

    I don’t think the underlying economic principles of Keynes are past their use by date. Monbiot says to propose Keynesian solutions for the 21st century’s problems ignores the environmental crisis the world is facing. “Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.” That’s where state regulation of pollution and resource management comes into play and need to be strengthened. But when you look at Keynes’ writing on “Liquidity Traps” that’s exactly where we are economically in the Western World. Where central banks pump money into the money supply via private banks(Quantitative Easing), but you end up with economic stagnation where central banks become impotent. The neoliberals discounted his writings on liquidity traps, but that’s where the likes of Krugman think things are right now.

    • Jenny Kirk 17.1

      To Steve Alfreds : I’ve been thinking that as well – that the underlying economic principles of Keynes are not past their use by date.
      And Monbiot might have started this discussion and provided a useful background to neo-liberalism, but he hasn’t made any suggestions on a different direction, except to dismiss Keynes.

      And this is where Labour needs to come in – which is what the NZ Labour Party has been working on over the past year – and is still developing policy.

      I also think people are writing off Labour a bit too soon – these things take a bit of time, but if you have a look thru Andrew Little’s speeches you’ll see a continuing thread – a need for NZ to look differently at how employment is created, and so on.

      Its unfortunate our mainstream media are so slack (and so under the thumb of the 1%) but what I find disturbing is that seemingly left-wing bloggers are very quick to jump on the same bandwagon re negative polls, and what Andrew Little may or may not have said, and this distorts any attempt by Labour to get its message across.

      Yes, Labour needs to do better in taking its messsage out to people, but shouldn’t we, those of us who also despair at the way this country is going, also take up that message and help distribute it ?

      • Leftie 17.1.1

        +100 Jenny and yes, I do believe that all who do want change, have a responsibility to take up that message and help distribute it.

  18. Old Tony 18

    It is certainly true that the idea that every individual is a utility maximising consumer and that society can be ordered around that assumption is a lie. We are more complex than that and, in any case, some people just need help.

    However, it is no more pervasive a lie than the line run by the Left which would have us believe that no recipient of welfare is ever anything other than motivated and keen. Witness the outcry at Bill English’ accurate remarks this week about some NZ workers.

    • ropata 18.1

      English’s remarks were indefensible shit. Kiwis are among the best workers in the world, it’s just here in NZ that they are totally undervalued. Bill’s comments were just nasty worker bashing, only appealing to the worst dregs of his grasping and bigoted constituents. No wonder an arsehole government like this awarded Peter Talley (oppressor of unionised workers) a knighthood.

    • Puddleglum 18.2

      The irony is that, if there has been a blossoming of such selfish motives (by workers and beneficiaries) then it is quite simply explained in terms of such people adopting the individualistic morality that the neoliberal reforms have nurtured and, in many cases, made essential for personal survival.

      If you can’t beat them, join them – look after number one irrespective of what attempts are made by others at social shaming for your lack of virtue. That attitude is part and parcel of our neoliberal times I’m afraid.

      We are all neoliberals now – in our attitudes.

      Obviously not absolutely everyone, but hopefully you get the general society-wide point I mean. Those who aren’t ‘self-focused’ enough – to put it euphemistically – will miss out materially, relatively speaking. Colloquially, they’ll be ‘mugs’.

      Here’s a great description of the kinds of people the Thatcher-Reagan-Douglas reforms elevated to poll position from the working class:

      Thatcherite culture celebrated the chancers and the semi-crooks: people who had been shunned in the solidaristic working-class towns became the economic heroes of the new model – the security-firm operators, the contract-cleaning slave drivers; the outright hoodlums operating in plain sight as the cops concentrated on breaking strikes.

      We thought we could ride the punches. But the great discovery of the modern right was that you only have to do this once. Suppress paternalism and solidarity for one generation and you create multigenerational ignorance and poverty.

      • Jenny Kirk 18.2.1

        Yes – this is very obvious here, too in NZ. Sad, eh?

        • Colonial Viper

          Thanks Moore, Bassett, Douglas, Prebble, Goff, great Labour Cabinet Ministers all.

          • Jenny Kirk

            Moore, Bassett, Douglas, Prebble have all gone, CV. Haven’t you noticed ?
            and Goff is going too.

            Time to start thinking about new ways of doing things, new economic directions.

  19. Glenn 19

    Over a million folks didn’t vote…
    Age range Descent Voters Voters as % of total enrolled Non-voters Non-voters as % of total enrolled Total enrolled
    18 – 24 All voters 212,204 62.73% 126,065 37.27% 338,269
    25 – 29 All voters 152,409 62.11% 92,967 37.89% 245,376
    30 – 34 All voters 169,899 67.40% 82,190 32.60% 252,089
    35 – 39 All voters 187,856 72.77% 70,302 27.23% 258,158
    40 – 44 All voters 226,110 76.22% 70,534 23.78% 296,644
    45 – 49 All voters 234,758 78.56% 64,065 21.44% 298,823
    50 – 54 All voters 248,257 80.77% 59,117 19.23% 307,374
    55 – 59 All voters 226,927 83.27% 45,589 16.73% 272,516
    60 – 64 All voters 204,604 85.97% 33,377 14.03% 237,981
    65 – 69 All voters 185,803 88.06% 25,198 11.94% 211,001
    70+ All voters 362,030 85.75% 60,156 14.25% 422,186
    Total 2,410,857 76.77% 729,560 23.23% 3,140,417

    They are the ones the left need. Without them this same discussion will be taking place in a decades time.
    And they are not going to get their votes with the dreary lot (Winston excepted) of opposition MPs we see on the news media at the moment.

    Surely there must be someone on the left who has charisma, intelligence and compassion and the strength to sustain the battering that the right and their media toadies will give them that can appeal to those that don’t vote.

    I can’t think of any so I guess it will be the same for the next 10 years.

    • Rocco Siffredi 19.1

      “Surely there must be someone on the left who has charisma, intelligence and compassion and the strength to sustain the battering that the right and their media toadies will give them that can appeal to those that don’t vote. ”

      That isn’t Andrew Little?

  20. Bill 20

    The reason ‘the left’ hasn’t articulated an alternative is pretty simple to understand.

    Once upon a time there was a prominent left that had a vision and an alternative. But much of it was ‘killed’ and then buried by a combination of statsisms. The Bolsheviks oppressed and suppressed the left in Russia, and in the west two things happened; the left was oppressed and leftist thought suppressed as in Russia, but in addition, statists in the west – those who followed Bolshevik prescriptions – wrongly assigned the term ‘left’ to their own political position. This supplanted surviving left presence/thought.

    In other words the left, depending on geographical location, has been rendered invisible by a combination of factors.

    That doesn’t mean that the left doesn’t have an alternative – just that it, and its voice, has been generally buried beneath layers of oppression and the cacophony of vocal pretenders to the mantle of the left; pretenders who are (unsurprisingly) afforded legitimacy (in the west) by those most opposed to the left.

    The ‘left’ that Monbiot refers to is that sanctioned or faux left, and it obviously has no alternative, given that it’s in essence, mainstream, or status quo, or establishmentarianism writ large…a dead end, a cul de sac, a lie.

  21. Colonial Viper 21

    So, Keynsian Capitalism is the “alternative economic order” that the Left is looking for?

    Or is it the Greens idea of “sustainable capitalist economic growth” that the Left is looking for?

    My take – it’s neither. Both are fucked. Keynsian capitalism belongs in the early 20th century of socialism, resource and energy abundancy.

    The Greens idea of sustainable capitalist economic growth is a have. A nice sounding sop for the comfortable middle classes who would like to think that they can replace their brand new Toyota Camrys with brand new Toyota Camry Hybrids and save the world.

    • pat 21.1

      it will dawn on everyone sooner or later

    • weka 21.2

      “The Greens idea of sustainable capitalist economic growth is a have. A nice sounding sop for the comfortable middle classes who would like to think that they can replace their brand new Toyota Camrys with brand new Toyota Camry Hybrids and save the world.”

      Yeah, nah. The Greens and their predecessors were talking about steady state economies long before your conversion and well before the years you were putting your energies and votes into Labour. They know damn well that there is no such thing as sustainable capitalist economic growth, but they’re between a rock and a hard place. If they want to effect change they need to be in parliament and to be in parliament they have to have politics that people will vote for. The other option is to leave parliament and cede it to right, who will just buy brand new Camrys until everything falls over.

      Your class analysis is way off too. The working and under classes aren’t going to support a party that promotes degrowth any more than anyone else. At least the Greens have been shifting the culture to focus on the very things you hold to be important. Yet you won’t vote for them.

      “Unlimited material growth is impossible.”


      Of course you know all that, but for some reason that’s never been made apparent you think that misrepresenting the Greens is more useful that doing something constructive.

      • Colonial Viper 21.2.1

        sorry I saw the Greens line up a row of flash new electric and hybrid cars last election each costing more than most NZers make in a year and must have got confused.

        • weka

          Yes, you certainly did get confused.

          • Colonial Viper

            Pfffft. As for the Greens compromising their politics for the sake of popularity and getting votes, fine. Lets see them get those votes. Lets see them get the electoral payoff and get 15%.

            But I dont think they will, because the more they compromise, the weaker their support will be.

            • weka

              And yet over the time that they’ve changed (what you call compromise) their vote has increased.

              I note that you don’t address the actual points I made regarding your take on things. Are you seriously suggesting that a party that starts talking about a steady state economy is going to get votes? Thought not.

              You’re conflating a number of things and using that to have a go at that GP for what looks like political cultural reasons (not a good cultural fit). But the fact that working class people don’t vote GP more than they do is nothing to do with the GP’s position on growth. It’s to do with working class people not being the right audience for electric cars. If the GP aimed their PR at the ‘average NZer’, they’d have to drop their CC stance. So how does that work? It doesn’t, so why not let them do what they are good at and support the things that work?

    • Stuart Munro 21.3

      Whatever positive action the Greens take – and it would be foolish to write them off prematurely – it is likely to include Keynesian elements.

      That various less skillful operators called what they did Keynesian is like the USSR’s claim to be communist or North Korea’s claim to be a Democratic People’s Republic – farcical. Keynes proved that health and social welfare were perfectly affordable – it was his sucessors who failed to keep up to the standard he set.

      There is definitely a place for government spending – but not stupid (Brownlee), corrupt (McCully) or wasteful (all of them) spending. Presently a government should be investing in transition technologies, moving society away from oil dependence. Bill English should want to anyway, not from Green motives but to improve NZ’s balance of payments deficit. Oil is a big slice of our imports, but of course kleptocrats couldn’t give a deleted expletive about anything like that. We can always sell more farmland, right Bill? Plonker.

  22. greywarshark 22

    He also asks that most important of questions, why has the left failed to come up with a modern alternative?

    Because they have fallen prey to Affluenza. If not a case of illness, then a carrier of the nasty strain of mind-warping virus. From The Guardian review.
    So why are we, in James’s words, so fucked up? It’s because of what James calls Selfish Capitalism, or, more catchily, “Affluenza”, a virus-like condition that spreads through affluent countries. In these countries, notably English-speaking ones, people define themselves by how much money they make.

    They are also ruled by superficial values – how attractive they look, how famous they are, how much they are able to show off. As the sociologist Erich Fromm would have put it, we have moved from a state of “being” to a state of “having”. Now we are obsessed with what other people think of us, and we’ve lost touch with our own feelings…..

    One of the scariest parts of the book is James’s analysis of New Labour politicians. Have they been infected with the virus? Well, just think of Tony Blair and his property dealings, his flash holidays, his spray-on tan. Think of Peter Mandelson, who said: “We are seriously relaxed about people becoming very, very rich.” Think of Prescott. Think of Cherie Blair …

    • Colonial Viper 22.1

      He also asks that most important of questions, why has the left failed to come up with a modern alternative?

      More simply, the Official Political Left (eg those in and around Parliament) are major beneficiaries of the status quo system.

      • Jenny Kirk 22.1.1

        Maybe its about time you started reading Andrew Little’s speeches, CV, and not keep believing the bullsh – – you see in the media. Here’s an extract from a recent speech :

        “We’re looking to the future too. We are one of the only parties in the world doing serious thinking about the future of work – about where jobs are going to come from in 20 and 30 and 40 years’ time and how we ensure that Kiwis aren’t left out or left behind as the world changes.
        I know that the kind of change we want to see, that our country needs to see, won’t come easily.
        I know that powerful interests are doing well out of the status quo and that they will fight tooth and nail to keep things the way they are.

        • Colonial Viper

          I, like most of the nation, don’t have time to waste reading Little’s remarks. Doesn’t he enjoy being part of the 1%?

          • Leftie

            rofl Typical.

            • Colonial Viper

              At the Labour Party Conference in Palmerston North last year, Labour Loyalists here on The Standard were proudly declaring Little’s conference speech the best, the most inspiring that they had heard in a long time, perhaps ever.

              Andrew Little himself was declared as being potentially the best Labour Party orator that they had come across in many years.

              Since then, Little has declared that the TPP largely meets Labour’s bottom lines and has committed himself to staying in the TPP. Labour senior MP Parker declared English’s pseudo privatisation of Kiwi Bank as brilliant. Shearer contradicted Little directly on the TPP but got to keep his caucus position and select committee seats. Little signed off on a Winston-esque media campaign based on Chinese-sounding last names, while Peters himself overtook Little as preferred PM.

              So, who the fuck cares what Little had to say yesterday, today, or tomorrow, or how well or inspirationally he said it, or how beautifully it was scripted and written. It’s irrelevant.

              • leftie

                People have a right to voice their opinions if they think something is good. Those who enjoyed Andrew Little’s speech and found it inspirational are allowed to say so. That is not a crime. Some may feel that Andrew Little is the best Labour Party orator, and others may not, but may still enjoy his speech regardless. That is not a crime either.

                You keep on putting out the same old and tired misinformation regardless of how many times people correct you. As you well know, National didn’t meet all of Labour’s bottom lines re TPPA, and Andrew Little never said that it did. As you well know, John key has signed this country up to a highly dodgy agreement that cannot be easily walked away from. No other opposition party are saying they will leave it either.

                National are extremely desperate for money and would love to flog off Kiwibank, but rather than risk more public backlash by selling more assets after breaking their word time and again, this keeps a NZ asset in NZ ownership. Some would call that a brilliant manoeuvre, given what National would really like to do.

                Andrew Little showed leadership in dealing with Shearer, who would have felt humiliated after he broke ranks, and found himself standing alone, and then he had to make a written apology to each and every Labour MP. Andrew Little felt that that was enough. I think Shearer, who I believe should be in the National party, will think twice before he even thinks of ever playing up again.

                John key had no hesitation in using Chinese sounding names for money to game his flag referendum in his favour. The Chinese sounding names were very willing and happy to oblige. And opinion polls with outdated polling methods, that have not kept up with changes in technology, can be easily manipulated. It is of no surprise that you think what Andrew Little has to say is irrelevant, but others think it is very relevant, even inspiring.

      • greywarshark 22.1.2

        Words, words – show me Labour that you have great integrity not little!

        • Leftie

          greywarshark, not even witty.

          Labout have a hell of a lot more integrity than vacuous National.

          • Colonial Viper

            They seemed to have backtracked on raising the retirement age and the CGT pretty damn quick.

            • Chris

              Just part of Labour’s track record, but worse still there’s no indication they’re ever going to change suggesting it’s more of the same. Beneficiaries keep putting key back in and Labour thinks nothing of it. Un-fucking-believeable.

              • Leftie

                That must of been hard for a right winger like yourself Chris, to admit that National have made right wingers beneficiaries.

            • Leftie

              Labour ran CGT for 2 elections before dropping it, was that quick? People also made it clear that they didn’t want an increase in the retirement age, so Labour dropped that too as an election policy to run with. That’s what you wanted wasn’t it Colonial Viper? So what’s your problem?

              • Colonial Viper

                Labour still think NZ Super is unaffordable. And the electorate knows that it cannot trust Labour on this count.

                And Labour didn’t have the political skills to pull off a CGT even though polls found that the general idea had strong support.

                • leftie

                  Labour was looking to the future and wanted to ensure the NZ Super is there for everyone, because the way things stand now it won’t be.

                  Pity Muldoon wiped out Labour’s Super scheme in 1975, NZ could have been extremely wealthy and such concerns about the sustainability of superannuation wouldnt exist.
                  Funny how the call for a CGT grew loud and insistent AFTER the general election. So, howz the watered down version that National introduced in 2015 doing then?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Muldoon’s scheme was universal. Labour’s was not.

                    Labour was looking to the future and wanted to ensure the NZ Super is there for everyone, because the way things stand now it won’t be.

                    Especially if you believe in the orthodox economics bullshit that we’re somehow going to run out of keyboard generated numbers in the government’s accounts.

                    • leftie

                      Lol if it was just like that then National wouldnt be borrowing the unprecedented amount like they have been doing, and every country in the world would be debt free and rich. Keyboard generated numbers in the government’s accounts do need to be backed up with assets, income and so on.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Yeah like all the rest of the orthodoxy adherents you’ve fallen for the matrix hook line and sinker.

                      Tell me again – how can we ever run out of digitally generated numbers?

                    • Pat

                      you know as well as anyone that it is a “confidence trick”, confidence being the operative word…as long as the rest of the world are playing that game , by and large we have to as well…..unless we are willing to be sidelined entirely, are we willing to accept that? i would suggest not.

                    • leftie

                      Colonial Viper, Cypress and Greece proves you wrong, and that also proves Pat’s point about it being a “confidence trick” as well.

          • greywarbler

            I wasn’t trying to be witty I was trying to make a point in a different way than the often mundane commentary here. There is so much circular argument, vacuous arguing with RW, and the propaganda about Labour goes on. From Gnats they say you did it too, Labour says we weren’t as bad as you. The country’s train wreck continues on through. Do you want something better? Then don’t waste your time criticising style of comment, do some thinking about improving NZ opportunities for earning, for jobs, for living conditions all as a whole.

            To start off look up co-operatives which I wrote extensively about yesterday and put in a submission to the FMA before 6 May. That is a move towards building capacity and increasing the access to jobs, affordable goods, money circulating in the local economy with multiplier effects. Read about multiplier effects here –

            Multiplier effect | Define Multiplier effect at Dictionary.com
            multiplier effect definition: An effect in economics in which an increase in spending produces an increase in national income and consumption greater than the initial amount spent.
            The multiplier effect refers to the increase in final income arising from any new injection of spending. The size of the multiplier depends upon household’s marginal decisions to spend, called the marginal propensity to consume (mpc), or to save, called the marginal propensity to save (mps).
            The multiplier effect – Economics Online

            This blog is full of criticisms and writers winning points over other writers, and firing broadsides at pollies we love to hate which is totally 20th century behaviour. We have failed in the last century to take the country forward for the good of all NZs and learn how to think smart as a trading nation helping our own enterprise and going into the tough overseas. Now sitting round on our bums throwing the equivalent of empty slogans suited for Christmas crackers isn’t useful political action.

            Get into policy, do something positive, not just say what you don’t like but for each criticism put up a practical alternative.

            • leftie

              Thanks for your response Greywarbler. This blog is what it is, so your points, although good, doesn’t just apply to me. Voting John key out is what is good for this country and will eliminate a number of NZ’s problems for a start.

              • greywarbler

                Thanks for your response. It seems you have a genuine goal. But I suggest that it is dated and too simple for today’s problems. Key out, will give only a minor relief. I remember there was a union leader who I thought should go and hoped for one that could bring a better outcome. The next one was worse. It is the situation that produces the man, and he or she that rises to the top may be attempting to be Canute, or more likely bobbing on the waves. That’s Key, you can’t knock a cork or drown it, and the sea of RW will still be there when he goes. If he goes!

                NZ needs more than just a Labour win. Helen Clark did good, but not good enough. As she gained further terms, to really aid low and middle income supporters, she needed to strike out boldly towards repairing the fabric of our economy and take us to the future. She held NZ together with staples, and saved Labour in the same way. But it was a temporary fix, and now shoddy.

                NZ needs a brave Labour willing to go back to its early principles, to what worked to help people and the country in the past. They have lost elections already with their RW sycophantic methods, they have little to lose! I don’t know about Little.

                It is sickening to see Labour going to Blackball wallowing in nostalgia. It is just another version of Gnats working on emotions about the past. They have manipulated Gallipoli and WW1 and spent money that should be going to the grandchildren of the dead fighting forces, or the families that remained here. Now we have been impoverished, not by nasty evil foreign enemies, but by some of our own people. How can Labour bear to see it and gloss over it?

                • leftie

                  What glossing over? I said voting John key out is a start and it would eliminate a number of problems, I didn’t say it was a end all solution.

                  Labour governments need longer than 3 terms to sort out the shambles National governments leave this country in.
                  John Key’s rot runs deep. Its going to take future governments over a very long period of time to sort the kind of mess he will leave behind, if they ever do. National governments are destructive, but none have been as destructive and as malicious as John key’s.

                  Sure Labour has lost elections, but I don’t think it’s because of “RW sycophantic methods.” There are a lot of other factors at play. National has lost elections too, and were in opposition for 9 years, but the way some rwnj’s talk its like National being in power for 71/2 years is somehow unique, when it is not.

                  IMO, what is sickening is how National supporters, that includes msm and those in influential positions, continue to condone and support the blatant corruption, treasonous acts and atrocities that are being committed by the amoral key National government.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Labour is a spent, disordered force which outlived its original reason for existing by the 1950s and 60s. It has no remaining purpose or objective other than to take power from National.

                    • leftie

                      Of course you would say that Colonial Viper, whilst giving National a free pass.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      You still don’t get it do you.

                      National are doing what they are supposed to be doing, what they’ve always done, what their original purpose was.

                      Why would I criticise them for being true to their founding principles.

                    • leftie

                      Lol Excuses, excuses.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      read it mate. National are doing exactly what they have always done, and exactly what they were founded to do.

                      Labour on the other hand ditched their founding democratic socialist principles like a tonne of hot bricks.

                      Everyone can see it.

                    • leftie

                      Your moral compass is obviously not set at North, that you think National being National justifies giving it a free pass. That’s a sorry excuse indeed.

          • Chris

            Keep reaching for the stars, Leftie. Your ambition for NZ knows no bounds. An inspiration for all of us.

            • Who cares

              I’ve never been ambitious – ambition is like a separate entity to inspiration.

              But inspiration is up and down, it isn’t permanent.

              To be perfectly honest being a junkie with free drugs would be my ideal.

              No worries on drugs. I like benzos.

            • leftie

              At least I care about my country, you clearly don’t, and its better than swimming in the sewer where you reside Chris.

              • Chris

                You’re truly a gem, Leftie. Lightened my graft-filled afternoon one again. Thank you.

                • leftie

                  Bullshit. Get a life Chris, instead of wasting it trolling.

                  • Chris

                    You call me a troll? You’re a fucking advertisement for the Labour party fullstop. Devoid of all analysis or critique. Boring and humourous at the same time. It’s the kind of blind support for Labour that keeps Key and his mates in government, and that blindness means you’ll never understand that. And that’s why Labour’s fucked.

                    • leftie

                      lol, bullshit, and that’s rich coming from a right winger like you, who only seems to post pointless abuse.

  23. CoroDale 23

    Buy back BNZ using Sovereign Money, plus UBI along with flat tax, plus tax for transaction controls, probably tax on capital. Why not state-housing on Sovereign Money too, just like the old days.

    Never mind the fear porn, we’ve plenty of politicians. A few [r0b: deleted – no thanks] would probably do more good than harm.

    Oh Jenny, I heard an Andrew Little state-of-the-nation-speech. No answers in that one. Did he even mention 3d printing? Don’t want to go technical on he fans? Has he mentioned UBI lately? That would fit the puzzle he’s created. Has he mentioned derivatives market of public banking? A bold man could mention the endless war and lies being created by our international allies.

    • Craig H 23.1

      Labour will institute Basic Income of some sort at some point – it’s a matter of specifics, rather than anything else. The general members are keen, and the policy remits are flowing through to that effect.

      Andrew Little and Grant Robertson both mentioned UBI in their speeches at the Region 5 conference in Blackball over the weekend.

      • Leftie 23.1.1

        Thanks for sharing that Craig H, excellent, that’s a direct hit to CoroDale who doesn’t know what he is talking about.

        • Colonial Viper

          Little and Robertson keep mentioning the UBI at the moment because it has ‘become a thing’ amongst activists, but because they hew closely to orthodox market economics and keeping the employer class on side, a true universal B.I. will never happen via Labour.

          And it will never happen in a way which keeps giving people hope that it will happen. That is:

          Labour will keep toying with the idea, delaying it in various ways for years (consultations, reviews, trials, research, etc.) and in the end it may be implemented at a low level. But with a shit load of associated conditions, bureaucracy and controls on the people who receive it.

          So, not a UBI at all.

          • Leftie

            Those sour grapes extra tarty?

            • Chris

              Your insipid responses on here deserve total disdain and should cease. It’s not a forum for Labour fanboys. You need to be told to fuck off permanently.

              • leftie

                What insipid responses? And yet here you are responding with meaningless abuse. Why don’t you follow your own advice then Chris?
                Why should I f off? Who gave you dictatorial powers to say who can comment and who can’t? Whose this forum for then? It is exclusively meant for National party fanboy trolls like yourself Chris? I thought The Standard was a public forum where everyone can have their say.

  24. Olwyn 24

    …“my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism”. The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.

    These two sentences put together reveal the neoliberal replacement for the common good, and the impotence of the parties of the establishment left in countering it. It is in line with this paradigm that the “right” makes sure the market is is not restrained, while the “left” ensures the surrounding culture is sufficiently liberal. But in the absence of any bottom line concerning fundamental human need, liberalism ends up prescribing only the conditions for joining the upper echelons, rather than a basis for universal care and respect. So you get war being waged on peoples with free health care and education and universal housing over issues of “human rights” because their cultures do not meet the standard embraced by Western liberals, though they do meet the standards for addressing basic need. A serious push against neoliberal has to put basic human need back at the centre of human rights, and not at the periphery. And even if neoliberalism is not a moral system, it can be made to answer to morality, as Bernie Sanders has pointed out. If it is unable to survive that, as seems likely, then other systems have a chance of taking hold.

  25. Jerry 25

    I’d like someone to explain why Keynesian (or neo-Keynesian) solutions no longer work other than ‘that’s so 20th century’ (as if that’s an argument).

  26. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 26

    I remember the 1970s. They were shit. I would rather not go back to them. We are so much better off now than we were then.

    • joe90 26.1

      They were shit.

      Poor wee thing, you missed out on all the sex and drugs and rock’n’roll, didn’t you?.

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 26.1.1

        I was a bit young. But I remember fondly the TV show they named after you.

      • Phil 26.1.2

        It’s not like those things suddenly went away in 1980. In fact, the drugs were a lot better (if you didn’t mind hanging out with investment bankers to them).

        • joe90

          Sure the bankers had HIV, bubbles, sulpates, goee, new wave and Lionel fucking Richie, but better than leftover sixties hippies, acid, buddha, fresh of the boat rock, reggae and (ima going to make out disco never happened) punk, nah.

  27. The lost sheep 27

    Well after 2 days I’d say this thread perfectly illustrates the failings of the Left that Mr Monbiot alludes to….

    • One Anonymous Bloke 27.1

      Of course you would: that’s your lack of comprehension talking, not to mention your self-serving pwned gobshite.

      You’re incapable of addressing anything Puddleglum said, and many other contributors to the post. Not to mention your dishonest bad-faith approach to discussion.

      • The lost sheep 27.1.1

        197 comments OAB, and by my count about 9 of them make any kind of attempt to positively address the concept of a new economic order.
        PG and Draco are truly voices crying in the wilderness.

        And I thought I’d include your contribution to the debate in it’s entirety.
        ( )
        Yup. That is the extent of it.

        Monbiot is right on the money. The Left has produced no new ideas for 80 years, and if this thread is any kind of evidence, I’m not holding my breath waiting for them to spring up out of the rotting corpse of Marxist based Socialism.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Bollocks. This post is but one of a huge library of ideas. Meanwhile, your glorious leader copies Labour’s policies, and as for “new”, when are Tories going to stop being bludging criminal money laundering corrupt scum? It’s been sixty thousand years already.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          One other thing: what really separates the modern left from the money laundering scum you spend so much time lying for, is competence, and that never goes out of style.

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